Climate

255 National Academy of Sciences members, including 11 Nobel laureates, defend climate science integrity

“There is compelling, comprehensive, and consistent objective evidence that humans are changing the climate in ways that threaten our societies and the ecosystems on which we depend.”

Tomorrow the journal Science publishes a remarkable Lead Letter supporting the accuracy of climate science.  The must-read statement, “Climate Change and the Integrity of Science,” is signed by 255 of the world’s leading scientists.  It begins:

We are deeply disturbed by the recent escalation of political assaults on scientists in general and on climate scientists in particular.

The lead signer, Pacific Institute President Peter Gleick, notes in a HuffPost piece:

It is hard to get 255 members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences to agree on pretty much anything, making the import of this letter even more substantial.

The letter underscores our deep understanding of human-caused climate change and helps illuminate how science works.  It deserves to be widely read in its entirety:

Climate Change and the Integrity of Science

We are deeply disturbed by the recent escalation of political assaults on scientists in general and on climate scientists in particular. All citizens should understand some basic scientific facts. There is always some uncertainty associated with scientific conclusions; science never absolutely proves anything. When someone says that society should wait until scientists are absolutely certain before taking any action, it is the same as saying society should never take action. For a problem as potentially catastrophic as climate change, taking no action poses a dangerous risk for our planet.

Scientific conclusions derive from an understanding of basic laws supported by laboratory experiments, observations of nature, and mathematical and computer modeling. Like all human beings, scientists make mistakes, but the scientific process is designed to find and correct them. This process is inherently adversarial””scientists build reputations and gain recognition not only for supporting conventional wisdom, but even more so for demonstrating that the scientific consensus is wrong and that there is a better explanation. That’s what Galileo, Pasteur, Darwin, and Einstein did. But when some conclusions have been thoroughly and deeply tested, questioned, and examined, they gain the status of “well-established theories” and are often spoken of as “facts.”

For instance, there is compelling scientific evidence that our planet is about 4.5 billion years old (the theory of the origin of Earth), that our universe was born from a single event about 14 billion years ago (the Big Bang theory), and that today’s organisms evolved from ones living in the past (the theory of evolution). Even as these are overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community, fame still awaits anyone who could show these theories to be wrong. Climate change now falls into this category: There is compelling, comprehensive, and consistent objective evidence that humans are changing the climate in ways that threaten our societies and the ecosystems on which we depend.

Many recent assaults on climate science and, more disturbingly, on climate scientists by climate change deniers are typically driven by special interests or dogma, not by an honest effort to provide an alternative theory that credibly satisfies the evidence. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other scientific assessments of climate change, which involve thousands of scientists producing massive and comprehensive reports, have, quite expectedly and normally, made some mistakes. When errors are pointed out, they are corrected. But there is nothing remotely identified in the recent events that changes the fundamental conclusions about climate change:

(i) The planet is warming due to increased concentrations of heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. A snowy winter in Washington does not alter this fact.

(ii) Most of the increase in the concentration of these gases over the last century is due to human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.

(iii) Natural causes always play a role in changing Earth’s climate, but are now being overwhelmed by human-induced changes.

(iv) Warming the planet will cause many other climatic patterns to change at speeds unprecedented in modern times, including increasing rates of sea-level rise and alterations in the hydrologic cycle. Rising concentrations of carbon dioxide are making the oceans more acidic.

(v) The combination of these complex climate changes threatens coastal communities and cities, our food and water supplies, marine and freshwater ecosystems, forests, high mountain environments, and far more.

Much more can be, and has been, said by the world’s scientific societies, national academies, and individuals, but these conclusions should be enough to indicate why scientists are concerned about what future generations will face from business-as-usual practices. We urge our policy-makers and the public to move forward immediately to address the causes of climate change, including the un restrained burning of fossil fuels.

We also call for an end to McCarthy-like threats of criminal prosecution against our colleagues based on innuendo and guilt by association, the harassment of scientists by politicians seeking distractions to avoid taking action, and the outright lies being spread about them. Society has two choices: We can ignore the science and hide our heads in the sand and hope we are lucky, or we can act in the public interest to reduce the threat of global climate change quickly and substantively. The good news is that smart and effective actions are possible. But delay must not be an option.

Hear!  Hear!

It seems these scientists realize that what the journal Nature said is true: “Scientists must now emphasize the science, while acknowledging that they are in a street fight.”

Now these same scientists need to start writing op-eds, doing ed-board meetings, giving talks, and the like (see “Publicize or perish: The scientific community is failing miserably in communicating the potential catastrophe of climate change“).U

Personal Note:  I now see that one of the signatories is Walter Munk, the much-honored oceanographer who proved “why one side of the moon always faces the earth.”   He is often called the world’s “greatest living oceanographer” and won this year’s $500,000 Crafoord Prize from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, “for his pioneering and fundamental contributions to our understanding of ocean circulation, tides and waves, and their role in the Earth’s dynamics.”  A quarter century ago, he supervised my (M.I.T.) Ph.D. thesis, which I conducted at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, concerning the physical oceanography of the Greenland sea.  He is one of the greatest scientists of the last half century.

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47 Responses to 255 National Academy of Sciences members, including 11 Nobel laureates, defend climate science integrity

  1. Wit's End says:

    Bravo for those scientists who are speaking out! It’s a little sad that it is personal attacks on individual researchers, and not the trees and polar bears, that have inspired them to find some cojones, but let us hope this brave stance will become habitual.

    Haha, my dad, who is a retired academic in his eighties, is old enough to remember McCarthyism well. He fired off one of his cryptic emails over the weekend:

    Gail:
    I just read the Penn State’s deans’ report on Michael Mann’s exchanges of emails with the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia. the report finds no credible evidence against Mann, but it has referred the case to an academic committee of his peers who are charged with reviewing any actions by him that “seriously deviated” from accepted practices standard in the academic community. The report is due by June. The crackpot AG of Virginia has just subpoenaed documents from the Univ. of VA relevant to Mann’s tenure there.
    It’s obvious that we are in a era of neo-McCarthyism that seeks to discredit those scientists and bloggers who warn against anthropogenic global warming. For example, the PSU report notes the sheer volume of requests the university received about Mann, many of which came from persons having no ties to PSU. The material was similar in content and sources, which suggests a widespread network prepared to attack.
    No doubt that your blog is already under survelliance. So be careful, and skeptical, of those inquiries that might seem innocent but may not be. I’ll be on the lookout for the academic report, but if you see a reference to it, let me know.

    doc

  2. caerbannog says:

    When you see terms like “climate change deniers” and “outright lies” in a statement signed by NAS members and Nobel Laureates and published in the journal Science, you know that the collective scientific community is getting *really* pissed off. Language like that would *never* find its way into America’s most prestigious scientific journal if these were normal times.

  3. Ian Forrester says:

    I have waited a long time for some thing like this. I think that at last scientists are realizing that the gloves have to come off since the deniers have been fighting in a dirty manner for some time now.

    I just hope that it gets picked up by the MSM and is not confined to Science and other “cloistered” outlets.

  4. Jeff Huggins says:

    The New York Times, Fox News, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, etc. (and CJR, etc.)

    NOW WE WILL SEE, won’t we: Will The New York Times cover this letter on the front page, as it deserves? Will they also take the opportunity to mention what they should have covered long ago, i.e., the letter sent by the AAAS and seventeen leading scientific organizations, late last year, to all U.S. Senators?

    Will Fox News cover this letter prominently? Will Glenn Beck agree with the huge and consistent scientific assessment and concern, or will he choose to decide that he still doesn’t agree?

    And what about The Wall Street Journal? Front page, guys and ladies?

    Also, this is a key and acute, and easy to track, thing for the folks who are supposed to assess and improve journalism. To the CJR and The Observatory and Curtis Brainard: Will you folks monitor coverage of this letter in the key print and TV media? Will you let us know whether The New York Times covers this letter on its front page? Will you assess journalism and news and the media on this?

    After all, one of the main complaints (of nearly everyone in the media having to do with climate change) is just that the problem is “too darn hard” to communicate. To them, the problem is ONLY, or MAINLY, “human nature” and the idiotic and distracted audience. To them, their own coverage is not really an important part of the problem. After all, they are doing the best they can. Ha!

    Well, we’ll see. After all, it’s hard to complain that “the public doesn’t get it” if you don’t give prominent coverage to things like this or to the AAAS letter, right?

    So please, Curtis, take this simple and clear opportunity to assess the degree to which the mainstream media (print publications and TV) cover this letter. Be analytic about it. Who covers it? On what page? How clearly? With what titles? Who chooses (still) to highlight “the controversy” and who chooses to just give the public the important essence of the factual matter? Let’s follow this, shall we? Will we see this letter covered, tomorrow or Sunday, prominently, in The New York Times? On the front page? If not, let’s all ask Bill Keller and (still) Andy Revkin why not?

    Many scientists have spoken. Now, let’s assess our media. And, let’s also assess the organizations that are supposed to assess the media.

    I can’t wait to see how this comes out.

    Jeff

  5. Joe1347 says:

    Hopefully the mainsteam media picks up the story – and ideally doesn’t include some anti-science type to provide ‘balance’

  6. Jeff Huggins says:

    To Andrew Revkin, Bill Keller, Paul Krugman, and Clark Hoyt (the Public Editor) —

    Gentlemen, can we all expect to see The New York Times cover this amazing and clear letter prominently, on the front page of The Times, as you should do?

    Give it your best, please. If you do, great. If you don’t, I will certainly be posing some questions, and I hope that Joe and CP and thousands of others will do the same.

    Jeff

  7. Jeff Huggins says:

    To Curtis Brainard and The Observatory at CJR —

    Curtis, as mentioned in my earlier comment, can we all expect to see The Observatory monitor, track, and comment on the degree to which specific news outlets (print and TV) cover this letter in the next several days? Which ones cover it? Who covers it on the front page? Do the headlines/titles present the key factual information, or do the titles emphasize the so-called “controversy”? How well is the matter covered? And so forth.

    Be analytic, please, so (at the end of the day) we can all understand, clearly and accurately, how well the news media cover this.

    Thank you,

    Jeff

  8. Mike Roddy says:

    Great letter, and nice comments here, too.

    I hope the scientists who signed this retain their outrage. We are going to hear things like “But you didn’t give Watts, Lindzen, or McIntyre chances to post rebuttals” from the corporate media. Scientists need to be prepared to slap those kinds of statements down, and forcefully.

  9. Bill W says:

    While I commend these scientists for publishing this letter, I’m sad to say that I don’t think it’s likely to change very many minds, if any. The denier responses are predictable:

    “Only 255 scientists? We’ve got over 30,000 on our [long-debunked] Oregon petition.”
    “They didn’t present any evidence. It’s just their opinion.”
    “These scientists are all part of a global conspiracy run by Al Gore to make millions.”
    etc.

    Nothing short of an in-your-face climate disaster is going to convince the intentionally ignorant of the facts they refuse to recognize.

    Sigh. I hope I’m proven wrong.

  10. Dennis says:

    I am glad they used words like McCarthyism,” “deniers” and “outright lies,” but Bill W is correct — the nutcases will use their spin-language against this. I hope the signatories realize that the battle has only just begun.

  11. GFW says:

    Speaking of raw numbers (like the bogus 30,000) I wonder what would happen if the realist side were to make an active attempt to collect verified signatures in a number of categories, say publishing PhDs (climate), publishing PhDs (other), non-publishing PhDs, BScs. I doubt it would be hard to beat 100k in the first three categories, and a million in the fourth.

  12. Bruce says:

    Nitpick:
    The letter says ‘science never absolutely proves anything.’
    Later, you (Joe) write ‘… Walter Munk, the much-honored oceanographer who proved “why one side of the moon always faces the earth.” ‘

    Someone could quote-mine that to bad effect.

  13. Will Greene says:

    caerbannog: That’s the first thing I thought. I welcome the straight-forwardness and I also love that they acknowledge the limits of science…of course Darwinism might be wrong, but that is extremely unlikely. Like Joe said, these scientists now need to amplify their message beyond the journal Science and to the broader American public.

  14. john says:

    I don’t think we should let government get involved in science.

  15. Heraclitus says:

    A great letter, this is what we need and it needs to keep coming. Those who signed the letter need to be prepared to follow it up and keep arguing their points.

    (But I hope it doesn’t eclipse the main news of the day, which is of course the election of the first Green Party MP in the UK. Congratulations to Caroline Lucas.)

  16. bill says:

    Hoo-bloody-ray!

    Sure the Agnotasaurs will make of this what they will – how could it be otherwise? – but these scientists are the kind of people who still have respect in the wider community. Reticence and a decorous reserve are no longer options!

    As for the ‘proof’ – and similar – quibbles; there’s not much point getting hung up on it. Warming is indeed ‘proved’ in the same sense that evolution and the big bang are proved, as the letter states – why stage an immediate retreat into long-winded qualifications to appease the very merchants of uncertainty? They won’t listen anyway!

  17. Wit's End says:

    The kids get it. It’s time for the grown-ups to step up: http://witsendnj.blogspot.com/2010/05/sixth-grade-doomer-contest.html

  18. J Bowers says:

    Anthony Watts is up to his usual nonsense. In fact he’s outdone himself this time, calling the signatories “Mad Scientists”.

    “Marketing Advice For Mad Scientists”
    wattsupwiththat.com/2010/05/07/marketing-advice-for-mad-scientists/

    This is one of the most revealing statemetns he’s made to date, along with the Goddard Space Cadet Center.

    [JR: His readership is collapsing, the number of people linking to him seems to be dropping, and he is becoming increasingly irrelevant.]

  19. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    If it hasn’t already done so, the Whitehouse should direct the FBI to investigate the degree of corruption behind the deniers. Clearly the abuse described in the letter is not a free speech issue, it is about a corrupt provision of funds for broadcasting misinformation that the funders know to be false.

    The documented advice of the GCC’s scientists back in the mid ’90s, that the case for AGW was not refutable, is the first proof of that knowledge. Doubtless there is far more to be uncovered.

    Intentionally misleading the US public and perverting the course of the legislative process should be criminalized, and perpetrators jailed. Whether an FBI report sat on the shelf for the present is a secondary issue; that ammunition needs to be prepared for a showdown that is looming up, and appropriate circs may arise suddenly.

    The public demand of the president by the letter’s signatories for the FBI’s unleashing would seem like the logical next step, and if well crafted it would itself be a potent message to the US public over quite how dishonest is the core of the denialism. Being the start of the long avoided confrontation between the scientific elite and the fossil lobby it should also attract substantive media coverage.

    Regards,

    Lewis

  20. mike roddy says:

    Jeff, you have your answer. New York Times online ignored this story, and of course the other outlets would rather ask their readers about Sandra Bullock’s black baby.

    We need a hew online paper of record. Early hires would be Matt Taibbi, Seth Borenstein, Frank Rich, and Joe Romm.

  21. TB says:

    I’m not clear on why I should care what anthropologists think about global warming. How does this further our cause?

    [JR: Huh?]

  22. J Bowers says:

    @ 19 TB: The letter isn’t only about climate science, but about science in general. It may focus on the climate scientists, but probably because they’re at the forefront in the public eye and experiencing the worst attacks. The opening sentence says…

    “We are deeply disturbed by the recent escalation of political assaults on scientists in general and on climate scientists in particular…”

    At the end of the day, 12.75% of the NAS membership are taking a broad swipe at the anti-science legislators, and others, and backing up their colleagues by calling them out for what they are.

    Compare that to the 0.45% of contrarians who signed the APS petition last year. These signatories’ kung fu is stronger.

  23. Jeff Huggins says:

    URGENT Suggestion to the Journal Science (and to the AAAS)

    PLEASE make the Letter public, available, and prominent on your website. The notion that a person has to pay, or get a subscription, in order to see the full text of this particular letter is problematic, doesn’t make sense, and defeats much of the purpose.

    I understand (and have seen) that the letter is available on the lead author’s website, but that’s not the same. Nor is there any good reason why Science and the AAAS should not have the letter on their website, prominently.

    Mainstream media outlets should cover this letter (whether they will, we don’t know quite yet), but you ought to facilitate that by facilitating public access, to the letter itself.

    Otherwise, it seems to me, the letter loses much of its public value.

    Thanks,

    Jeff

    [JR: I have communicated that to Science.]

  24. Doug Bostrom says:

    Jeff Huggins says: May 7, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    PLEASE make the Letter public, available, and prominent on your website.

    No kidding. An open letter intended to make an impact with the general public and it’s behind a paywall? Folks complain about the PR skills of the scientific community, here’s an appropriate metaphor.

    Particularly a shame because the letter is excellently written– concise, forceful and compelling.

  25. Chris Winter says:

    TB wrote: “I’m not clear on why I should care what anthropologists think about global warming. How does this further our cause?”

    Anthropologists don’t only study primitive man. (Or perhaps it could be said that modern humans are not so different from those who coexisted — uneasily, it seems — with Neanderthals.)

    Consider tribalism. A corporation often develops a tribal culture, and this can be a good thing. But the corporation’s CEO and top management have a big influence on the nature of that culture. If they cut corners on safety, so will the rest of the company. That always turns out to be a bad thing.

    Study of corporate behavior by anthropologists can therefore help to foster the development of better (and more cost-effective) performance.

  26. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    Perhaps the signatories have yet to agree that it’s an open letter to the public ?

    At best they should now publish it in the press (which they NAS can well afford) addressed to the president.

    How much worse does our predicament have to get before they fulfill this professional responsibility ?

    Regards,

    Lewis

  27. robhon says:

    Arg! I read with disgust the Watts/Goddard response to this open letter this morning (and worse yet the comments below their post). I just don’t see how people can read a statement from 255 of our nation’s top scientists and completely dismiss it. It is a sad commentary on the times in which we live.

  28. Richard Miller says:

    The NYTimes is almost incapable of reporting climate well.

    Andrew Revkin posted a piece on this letter on his Dot Earth Blog, which is buried in the online version of the NYTimes, with the unfortunate title: Scientists Lash at “McCarthy-Like Threats.” He suggests that these scientists don’t help themselves much when they adopt a defensive tone. It is hard, however, to criticize their defensive tone when they are being unjustly attacked. If you are being attacked, and the scientific process itself is being attacked, and you respond to those attacks you inevitably will defend yourself and the process and thus come off defensive.

    Here is the post I put up, which was influenced by Joe’s analysis, in response to Revkin’s post:

    How about posting the letter from the 255 NAS scientists on the front page of the Times?

    If my memory serves me well, the last front page story on climate change was about how many meteorologists deny climate change http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/30/science/earth/30warming.html. The problem is that one does not have to take a single course in climate science to get a degree in meteorology. So this article was not helpful in informing the public.

    The front page article prior to that (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/09/science/earth/09climate.html?hp=&pagewanted=all) was about the attacks on the IPCC and it gave a platform to the craziest fringe of the deniers camp (i.e., The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley) and did not actually quote a single mainstream climate scientist attacking the IPCC.

    Now 255 scientists from the National Academy of Scientists (the highest scientific body in this country) defend the scientific process, which is being threatened here, and reaffirm the overwhelming consensus of human induced climate change. My question to the New York Times is: why is this not on the front page?

    What is the mission of the New York Times? Does the so-called paper of record see as it mission informing the public, especially about issues of such great magnitude for the human community?

  29. Wit's End says:

    Mike Roddy, I was going to suggest this publication http://www.globalpost.com/ as a promising substitute, but I can’t find any reference to the letter there, either! Maybe somebody should alert them…

  30. Chris Winter says:

    John wrote: “I don’t think we should let government get involved in science.”

    If you mean we shouldn’t let government officials politicize science, as the Bush administration pervasively did, you have it correct. Officials can properly decide what to do about scientists’ conclusions. What they must not do is try to alter those conclusions.

    Let me give an example: A wildlife biologist working for the Fish & Wildlife Service finds that the Florida panther is disappearing. FWS has two ways to go.

    A. They can accept that finding, but say there’s no money to spend on saving the panther. This is regrettable, but legitimate. (I assume that money really is this tight.)

    B. They can have someone alter the biologist’s report so it appears the panther is doing fine. This is not legitimate.

    Losing the Florida panther won’t end human civilization. But letting government dictate the findings of science just might do so.

  31. J Bowers says:

    The letter’s available as a PDF here:
    http://www.pacinst.org/climate/climate_statement.pdf

    The Guardian also ran the letter in its entirety, including each signatory’s name embedded with a link to their relevant details:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/may/06/climate-science-open-letter

    Not ideal, though.

  32. paulm says:

    This letter should be analyzed by the US government and published through them in their various media.

    It is the responsibility of the gov which is now aware of the CC situation to inform the general public of the grave situation.

  33. caerbannog says:

    Sorry for steering things a bit off-topic, but denier Richard Steckis really “stepped in it” over at realclimate.org

    Just a warning to those of you out there who took thermo in college (and haven’t forgotten it all): Secure all hot beverages before reading on. I won’t be held responsible for your scalded nasal passages.

    From http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/05/solar/comment-page-5/#comment-174036

    Steckis: “The essential argument is that the heating of the Venusian atmosphere occurs through adiabatic processes and not through absorbance of IR by GHGs.”

    Gavin Schmidt’s admirably polite reply: “Since ‘adiabatic’ means without input of energy it seems a little unlikely that it is a source of Venusian heating.”

  34. Jeff Huggins says:

    Re Comment 32, From paulm

    Good point, paulm. Indeed — very good point!

    Although the media should be covering things like this (letter) as well, of course, you make a very good point: The government has a positive responsibility to inform the people on such matters. When science so clearly indicates that we have a big problem, then it becomes the government’s responsibility to inform and educate the public. The responsibility of the PRESENT government to do that is NOT a political matter or an open question. The public has elected an administration, and that administration has its roles and responsibilities to fulfill. A law doesn’t need to be passed in order for the PRESENT administration to take its role seriously and to do whatever it takes to educate the public about the global warming problem. Period.

    What are they waiting for?

    Sometimes we tie our own hands up into knots. We’d better untie the knots that we ourselves have tied.

    C’mon, Obama, lead the nation,
    Give us climate education!

    (thanks to GWEN and the poetic polar bear for that chant)

    Jeff

  35. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    Jeff at #34
    “What are they waiting for ?”

    If we could work out the answer to that, to the extraordinary and reprehensible inaction, we’d have at least a chance of ending the waiting. Without knowing why, the best we can do is push, sloganize, editorialize and the rest.

    Given the stakes of the climate issue, which Obama has to know full well, any general pressure from activists is going to seem puny compared to the pressure of the thing able to restrain him.

    The evidence of that restraint is plain. E.g., fewer than 16 sentences on the issue in sixteen months that have been audible to the public.

    None of the usual hindrances fit the circumstances – for instance, given
    the disillusion it’s causing the young campaigners and voters who got him elected, it’s even lousy politics. If he carries on like this the his re-election chances will be affected.

    So maybe our priority should be seeing if we can find a more plausible reason for inaction than Obama playing brinkmanship with China over “Who can ignore global warming the longest” (which is the only explanation I’ve found to date that fits the circs).

    Regards,

    Lewis

  36. Edward says:

    Where do we sign the NAS petition? I forwarded the link to my senators.

  37. J Bowers says:

    36 Lewis Cleverdon: “So maybe our priority should be seeing if we can find a more plausible reason for inaction than Obama playing brinkmanship with China over “Who can ignore global warming the longest” (which is the only explanation I’ve found to date that fits the circs).”

    I would suggest a read of these two articles:

    “Secret Copenhagen recording reveals resistance from China and India:
    Der Spiegel captures standoff between Obama, Sarkozy, Brown and Merkel and developing country negotiators”
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/may/07/secret-copenhagen-talks-climate-recording

    “How do I know China wrecked the Copenhagen deal? I was in the room:
    As recriminations fly post-Copenhagen, one writer offers a fly-on-the-wall account of how talks failed” by Mark Lynas (author of Six Degrees)
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/22/copenhagen-climate-change-mark-lynas

  38. Lewis Cleverdon says:

    JBowers at #38

    as it happens I read both articles on the days they came out. Their effect of blackening China’s conduct is not relieved by any balance at all concerning Western provocation of the reported stonewalling.
    Nor do they discuss the relevance of the Chinese delegate describing his counterparts’ pledges as inadequate.
    Nor do they assess the proposed burden-sharing in the practical terms of national emmissions entitlements: under the Western proposal, by 2050 each American would have had the right to emit about three times the GHGs of each Chinese.

    With regard to the provocations, start with Obama adopting the unilateral 2005 baseline, thereby endorsing Bush’s reneging on the US signature of the UN.FCCC mandate with its 1990 baseline. As a calculated snub to international confidence in US interest in negotiation, this was not accidental.

    A few weeks before the COP, Obama then broadcast his willingness to attend Copenhagen “if we can be sure all parties are acting in good faith.” Again, the snub was clear, pointed and not accidental.

    It is unclear just why China’s lead negotiator had accreditation that denied him access to the first three days of the crucial Copenhagen summit. Despite all China’s effort, he was not allowed in. While such dirty tricks are certainly possible, there is of course no evidence of Western involvement – yet no effort was made by the west to resolve the problem. — In terms of disrupting the Chinese delegation’s contribution and breeding suspicion, this event would take some beating.

    Finally, the Chinese president was sat there listening to Obama declare that America is not the largest emiter – as if America’s accumulated emissions from a century of intensive industrialization were of no relevance, – while offering a mere 3.67% cut off 1990, contingent on the senate, when 40% is what is required.
    It would be an error to assume the Chinese government is monolithic – as the Whitehouse knows, its president has powerful forces well to the right whose support he must nurture. The massive and universally public snub of Obama’s speech to both China and its president meant that the latter withdrew, sending his negotiator to the final meetings, with instructions that no significant concessions could be provided.

    All of which was entirely predictable to American diplomats and, presumably, to Obama. Having stonewalled on the derisory, contingent 3.67% offer, and with Stern having denied the existence of a dimension of equity in the negotiation – “its just maths . . .”, I suggest that the US delegation achieved pretty much the outcome they’d been looking for.

    Regards,

    Lewis

  39. Jeff Huggins says:

    Bravo (and thank you) to Science and the AAAS for allowing access to the letter without pay. Super.

    And thank you, Joe and CP, for calling them.

    That said, my own view is this: I spent a fair amount of my career in marketing and doing market (and “guest”) research, in the toy industry, and for the Walt Disney Company, and elsewhere. Given the stakes involved (with climate change and for science as well), I would urge Science and scientists to give much more prominence to such statements as the recent letter. In other words, now the letter is available on the website, without pay, from a not-very-prominent link on the home page. But, in a case such as this, the home page should actually contain a headline or a “feature” of some sort to highlight the letter and draw attention to it, at least for the first several days, and then the more normal-sized link could be used, still on the home page but without quite as much prominence.

    Scientists (and their journals) should get much more savvy when it comes to featuring and headlining important things. Many scientists, from the life sciences and etc., understand a great deal about human attention and communication. So, why don’t scientists and the scientific journals put that knowledge into practice when they actually have something vitally important to say, for the public’s attention?

    If the journal Science and the AAAS would like some helpful advice on how to highlight vitally important communications or stories, feel free to give me a call.

    Cheers,

    Jeff

  40. Anna Haynes says:

    Offered without comment: a report on how the San Francisco Chronicle covered the story today.

    Not in the front section; while a science story did merit A-1 coverage (online & print), it was “Scientists zero in on ancient Land of Punt” (link); the news being that researchers (gathering in Oakland) still can’t tell exactly where Punt was, but now they know where it wasn’t.

    In contrast, the letter by 255 NAS members decrying McCarthy-ite tactics by powerful enemies of science appears on p.1 of Section C, the Bay Area section – crammed in down at the bottom, getting the smallest play of the five stories there.

    The 4 more important stories:
    “Muni service cuts go into effect today”
    “Japanese ship docks to remember 1860 voyage”
    “Newsom’s rival Hahn attacks via YouTube”
    “More lesbian couples choosing the challenges of motherhood”

    Why the Bay Area section, you might ask? well, the lead signer of the letter is Oakland-based, and some of the others are also from Northern California.

    I’m trying to find out who the editor was; this kind of news judgment merits recognition.

  41. Anna Haynes says:

    p.s., the title:
    Climate scientists decry ‘political assaults’

  42. Anna Haynes says:

    For the record, the San Francisco Chronicle’s editor is Ward H. Bushee, former editor of the Arizona Republic; the publisher is Frank Vega.

    “How are we going to make democracy work if people don’t know what is going on?”

  43. Jeff Huggins says:

    Anna, thanks for the great info.

    I’m about to go and get today’s The New York Times, to see whether they covered the letter.

    Have you happened to find any good or excellent examples of coverage?

    Cheers and Be Well,

    Jeff

  44. Jeff Huggins says:

    Nothing in The New York Times Today

    As far as I can tell, The New York Times didn’t cover this letter in today’s (Sunday’s) paper.

    Sigh.

    Maybe tomorrow?

    Jeff

  45. Jeff Huggins says:

    Nothing in The New York Times Today, Either

    As far as I can tell, The New York Times didn’t cover this letter in today’s (Monday’s) paper.

    Sigh again.

    Maybe tomorrow?

    Jeff

  46. Jeff Huggins says:

    Nothing in The New York Times on Tuesday or Wednesday